The entrepreneurial movement that is sweeping America isn’t new. History shows for African Americans, women, and other minorities, entrepreneurism and small business ownership have always been a reliable pathway to economic freedom, community sustainability, family cohesiveness, and realization of dreams that might otherwise be deferred.
For these populations, the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce is a thought leader and a beacon of knowledge, and, as such, it is our responsibility to light the pathway by providing sensible guidance and informed support.
I remain convinced that there is a need for our services. I continue to hear from hard-working, tax-paying men and women who are educated, resourceful, determined and smart…but could seriously use some help. They would neither ask for nor accept handouts and giveaways, but when they make concerted efforts to secure help from the established ecosystem…they still seem to fall short.
At the BBMC, we know that when small businesses thrive, the entire community thrives. We believe in building wealth, and we know that small business ownership is one way to get there. We encourage our members to be bold, courageous and informed as they construct success strategies for their enterprises. And we help give them the tools so they can do more than simply exist. We want them to thrive.
Our purpose today is the same purpose that inspired me to organize the BBMC back in the fall of 2012; to help level the playing field for woman-owned and minority-owned businesses (i.e., populations that are often the most vulnerable, most under-served, and at high risk) by providing advocacy, information and guidance.
My Chamber. My Choice. My Voice.
I remember seeing a tiny announcement in a November 2012 edition of the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper about the formation of a chamber for minority and women business owners. I clipped the brief, posted it to my office bulletin board, and made a mental note to eventually join.
Like many small business owners, I was working a full-time job during the day and using weeknights and weekends to chase my dream of building a successful marketing company. So frustrating! One year my sales would be up, the next year, down. At the same time, the demands on my full-time, bills-paying job often required long hours of work from me that often extended into the evenings and weekends; robbing me of the time I needed to work on my enterprise. The volatility made it impractical for me to take that giant leap into the life of a real business owner.
By the time I joined the BBMC in May of 2013 I was sorely in need of something that could help me figure out a realistic strategy for me to get my enterprise going. My entrepreneurial clock was ticking and I was ready to flee the bills-paying workplace in exchange for the life of a full-time business owner. I knew in my heart that if I could ‘get situated’ (a term my mother often used), I would be successful. But I needed support.
What I have found at the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce is a very young and ambitious organization, being led by some incredibly smart and experienced people, whose lives reflect the same multi-faceted and demanding balancing act as mine. Oddly enough, I wasn’t turned off by that reflection. Instead, I was (and continue to be) motivated and inspired by the passion, the camaraderie, the determination, and the intelligence. It’s great to be part of something with others who believe what I believe.
We’ve come a long way at the BBMC, but we’ve still got a long way to go. What I can promise each and every member, friend, and stakeholder is that my commitment to this organization is real. I will continue to work hard to help build this much-needed network of support for people like me who need it the most.
My chamber. My choice. My voice.